Moose, Elk, Sheep and Deer

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On the evening we went on the Discover Jasper Wildife tour with Sundog, someone so wanted to see a moose. She must have manifested it, because while driving we found this moose and calf just off the road.

Saw Mom first, then the calf.
If one has motion blur then the other does not. Can’t win.
Not a moose, but a Bull Elk we happened upon. actually they were three of them. See the antlers just above the neck? His rack was easily five feet across.
Two Bull Elks
Mule Deer in the woods
Young Rocky Mountain Sheep living precariously
Hoary Marmots hang out on the rocks just before Medicine Lake. they remind me of the two old men at the theatre on sesame Street. It is hard to say who is watching whom.

I no longer have Covid, but even doing a few photos is tiring. It will be a while before I am back to normal, but it does feel good to feel better.

An Adorable Bear Family

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We hit the jackpot on the evening Discover Jasper Wildlife tour. I went with Sundog Tours and our driver knew where to find the animals. We got off the bus a couple of times to take photos of scenery and each other, and hear from our well-informed driver the history of the park but never when there was wildlife in close proximity. We observed wildlife from the safety of the bus.

We were lucky to observe a Momma Black Bear and her two cubs. Momma was focused on eating while the cubs cavorted around the grass close by. It looks like she needs to gorge herself in order to get enough fat on her body to sleep through the winter.

Our presence on the bus did not bother the bears one bit, so we got to watch them a long time. Sometimes she would tear a strip off a log and show one or the other youngsters how to take advantage and get some good treats. I took lots of photos.

Mom finding bugs and sap on logs while the cubs cavort just like human toddlers.
That little patch of brown to the right of the cub is the other cub.
I believe there is some teaching going on here.
Always time to explore between bites.
The family eating together. A modeling moment.
This experience taught me how easily it would be to run into a bear in the woods. they are usually obscured by bush and grass, so remember to make some noise and avoid surprises.
Lots of exploring to do.

Floating on the Athabasca

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I so enjoyed seeing Jasper National Park from the perspective of the Athabasca river courtesy of Jasper Raft Tours. Not a whitewater trip, but a float, which allowed me to bring my camera as well as a bag for when we hit small rapids and got some splashes.

One person does the navigating on these trips and while we go along for the ride. Brad was our guide.
We start north of Athabasca Falls and get get out at Old Fort Point. there is Mount Edith Cavell in the distance.
A bit of rocking and rolling with the water that was actually soothing to the back. It was nice to see Canada Geese in their natural habitat.
Whistler Mountain with the Gondola ride
Maneuvering under bridges-how did the graffiti get there?
Some wet bums and happy faces here! Lots of squeals and laughter!
Love the rocks here at Old Fort Point
The photographer on the bridge lining up our group shot as we pass under the Old Fort Point bridge. We will dock on the other side of the bridge. The photographer develops the photos in the back of the van and they are ready almost immediately.

One of the Highlights

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On the Maligne Valley Tour, just barely started, our guide Samuel stopped the bus so we could all observe this king of bears, the Grizzly.

Hard to get a good shot as he was moving through grass, shrubs and trees.
A better shot as he moves into the open

No energy right now, I caught Covid on the trip. Total fatigue and mostly sleeping.

Time for a Get-a-way

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I have been lucky the past two years and taken a mini vacation in my own province for three to five days each. I have surgery this fall, September or October, and will be laid up for a bit, so it became very important to get away again this summer and I spontaneously responded to an e-mail ad from VIA Rail and booked a train to Jasper. Guess what! I missed the train-got mixed up on day and time-imagine my shock and dismay! Re-booked another train and now I have it clear in my head that I go to the station tonight, Friday and board the train at 00:01 Saturday morning. The ticket agent was very kind and accommodating and I was not charged any fees for the re-booking. I cancelled the return trip because I still wanted 5 nights away and managed to book a shuttle home with Sundog Tours next Thursday. I had to change to two hostels, instead of one, but did get accommodation! That is a near-impossible feat in high season in Jasper.

Young Rocky Mountain Sheep

I do not have a car and it was too late to book one, so I signed up for three tours, two of which I had to change days due to missing the train. One tour company will pick me up at my accommodation and the other one will meet me downtown, not far away.

Destination Spirit Island

All photos in this post are from 10 years ago, let’s see what I come up with this year. Packed batteries, charger and an extra SD card. More to be revealed.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch

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The difference between a watch and a warning, is that a watch is a “possibility” of severe thunderstorms with a “possibility” of heavy rain, hail, and even tornadoes. A warning means it is coming and that you should take cover. Tonight and last night we had notifications of a severe weather watch. In the middle of the province the land structure seems to lend itself to wild weather and further south, in Calgary, they get more hail than anywhere in the world. The weather people even sow the clouds to reduce the size of hail from tennis ball size to smaller than golf balls. It still can cause millions of dollars in damage.

The town of Sundre did get a tornado last night and there were reports of funnel clouds and touch-downs in a couple of places further south. It is that time of year when we get severe thunderstorms and I am going to share some photos that I took after looking outside my window last night that made me take notice starting around 8 p.m. and clearing after 10 p.m.

The clouds moved in quickly and got lower You can see the old red and white airport tower just right of center..
Very dark now. Lightning and pouring rain. The white mark in the middle in the sun starting to sink into the horizon in the west.
Clouds are moving and lowering with some light still in the sky. Do I detect a greenish tinge? Not good.
Looking north the clouds are going east and the airport tower is one the left side.
Now it is pouring rain in the north as the clouds head downtown..
The contrast between clearer sky and dark clouds moving further east toward downtown.
Now it is raining where I am and just grey.
This is when I thought it might hail, it was pouring so hard. The window on the left side of picture is coated with running water.
Lightening up but still raining heavily and downtown buildings are starting to be swallowed up.
Looking north the end of the clouds as blue sky is revealed again with some great lighting..
There are still some dramatic effects but the storm is over.

Outing to Peaceful Valley

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The building that I live in sponsored a day trip to Peaceful Valley Guest lodge. The lodge overlooks a beautiful valley which the Battle River snakes through, southwest of Edmonton and is for day use only and exclusively for groups of seniors and/or disabled people. It is owned by Parks Alberta and first bought by a senior couple who left it for other seniors to use. You must book ahead to come here.

It was a great trip on the private bus from which we saw huge ominous-looking thunderheads but we evaded a real rain other than spitting a couple of times. While there, we had a BBQ.

As soon as we arrived, some went inside the lodge to chat and visit while a few of us went outdoors to explore and go birding.

Peaceful Valley
Peaceful Valley and the meandering Battle River
taken from the top
another view of the valley
The day lodge with outside porches where the burgers were cooked. To the left overlooking the valley are rows of bird feeders that were well visited much to my delight.
It is the time of year when the Wild Rose is in bloom, the provincial flower of Alberta
Field of Hawkweed (invasive species) and Buttercups
Bumblebee with swollen pollen sacs feeding on a wild Vetch flower.
Two male Red-winged Blackbirds feeding while a female Red-breasted Grosbeak awaits her turn
Female Red-breasted Grosbeak with a view from her high perch
Here is the female red-winged blackbird
A family of Blue Jays just down the hill from where I was standing
Hairy Woodpecker
Very pretty birdfeeders and bird houses , this one with a visiting female Red-breasted Grosbeak
Bird House
Another pretty birdhouse

I heard and saw some American Gold Finch, White-throated Sparrows and a Common Shrike but could not focus on them. Great Grey Owls and Red-tailed Hawks have been spotted here, as well.

One of many benches to rest on
Had to include this visitor to the feeders, this red Squirrel looks used to posing for the camera.

The caretakers, who are volunteers, give free tours on a large golf cart on the loop around the property, stopping to explain a species of plant, or catch a view, which I also went on shortly before we departed for the return trip home. That was a day to remember, my favourite outing!

A-aw-w-w…

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I missed these the other day, but discovered them last night. According to another concernd birder, they have been at the pond for 5 days. So cute! There was no sign of Momma last night, so I worry about their survival. This other woman was circling the pond, guarding the ducklings, chasing off any potential predators. I do hope that they haven’ t been abandoned. There were 7 at last count, with a couple already being picked off by magpies and dogs.

It’s a big world out there for such a small youngster.
Such independent creatures, these Goldeneyes.
My friend called these “Baby Bobber Birds” because they jump up and dive, then pop back up to the water’s surface like a fishing bobber.
Making a Dive

New Neighbours

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I like going to the pond, it is only 2 blocks away. I discovered a new pair of ducks there, apart from the Mallards, These Lesser Scaups come regularly but I do not think that they are nesting here. Like me , they like to “hang out” once in a while. I have also seen a pair of American Wigeons, but only once.

Here is the Lesser Scaup Drake
The pair were sleeping on the water then woke and the drake spent time preening.
Here is the Lesser Scaup Hen, showing her blue bill during mating season. she stayed by the edge of the reeds while the drake was swimming around.
Here they are swimming the pond together.

The resident Red-winged blackbirds are still here. the male has his perches around the pond, keeping guard. The young ones must have hatched by now or close to it.

Male Red-winged Blackbird on one of his frequent perches
The female has a different call, maybe notifying the male, and flies low to different spots, perhaps to distract intruders from the nest and to feed. I was happy to capture this shot.

I have seen a pair of Mallards here too, but no recent pictures. When I was driving by with a friend one day, we saw them on the sidewalk beside the road. There are visits by the bachelor boys too.

Now that I have my mind on them as I write this post, I may meander over to the park to see who is there.

Sunrise/Sunset

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I know we have passed the mark of the longest day of the year, when we got 17 hours of daylight, but there are still some glorious sunrises and sunsets to be seen. I can’t believe I wake up this early, but even before the light hits the drapes, I am savouring the sounds of first, the Robins, then the Gulls and finally the Crows, reminding myself that they will not be here for much longer, and I will miss them when they are gone. The orange glow on my drapes inspires me to get up, find my camera and take photos of the sky. Then I have a choice whether to stay up or go back to cuddle under the covers.

First, the sunrises:

Sun rising in the northeast
Same sky, a few minutes later
Raised my camera to catch the light through the clouds
Same morning same time, looking toward downtown Edmonton. there is lots of building going on.
Taken this morning, that is the Commonwealth Stadium on the horizon on the right

And now for the sunsets…

Earlier this month, looking northwest
Looking west just after sunset. I really appreciate my bay windows so I can get such a wide view of northeast, north and northwest.
Same night one week ago
Same night , one week ago.
one minute later! looking north
A few minutes later looking west and higher up

It is not hard to become a sky watcher when there are so many amazing displays to see. I can’t believe that I am up so early in the morning, but the glow on the drapes is irresistible- I must get up and see what is going on outside. Hope you enjoyed these images.